As the only one of the group to actually watch last night’s play (bloody part-timers), it falls to me to write the review after a few hours sleep. I’m still suffering a bit, so please forgive me if I missed something.
The day began with England on 196/4, and with England hoping to really cash in and keep the Aussie bowlers toiling for most of the day. Those plans seemed to be working through the first hour, as Malan and Moeen looked fairly comfortable at the crease facing the second new ball. There was also an injury scare for Australia as Shaun Marsh ran his spikes across Mitchell Starc’s knee in the field, causing the bowler to leave the field for some treatment and a new pair of trousers. Starc returned to the field quickly though, as it was just a scratch.
At some point during the hour Australia switched up their tactics and went from bowling full to short as they peppered Dawid Malan and Moeen Ali with bouncers, whilst Lyon targeted the two left-handers from the other end. Neither batsman seemed comfortable with the aggressive bowling, particularly Moeen, but it was Malan who fell to it after top edging a pull from a Mitchell Starc bouncer to deep square leg. It was a disappointing dismissal in some ways as the field was clearly set for that shot, but before the match started I’d have snapped your hand off if you offered me Malan scoring 56.
The very next over, Nathan Lyon dismissed Moeen Ali LBW as the batsman played for spin that wasn’t there. In a matter of minutes, England had gone from two set batsmen at the crease to there been two bits of fresh meat at the crease for the Aussies to attack. Two overs later Lyon bowled Woakes through the gate to a very loose drive, and the familiar England Test collapse was on.
Jonny Bairstow had been pushed down the order to “bat with the tail”, and after having faced only 7 balls for no runs that’s exactly what he was doing. With Broad at the other end and two number 11s to come in, Bairstow took the not unreasonable choice of attacking the Aussie bowlers at every opportunity. Unfortunately for him (and us), he skied a short ball from Cummins and wicketkeeper Paine collected it.
Jake Ball then came in, and actually looked pretty good as he seemed to time the ball better than the other England batsmen. He hit 3 boundaries before glancing a ball from Starc off his hip and straight into the hands of David Warner at second slip. Anderson and Broad added another 13 runs between them before Broad pulled a short ball from Hazlewood to deep square leg, and the innings was over with England finishing on 302.
Australia’s innings began broadly how you’d expect, with the experienced David Warner looking fairly comfortable whilst the debutant Cameron Bancroft looked more hesitant and nervous. The nerves clearly got to him, as Bancroft edged a full Stuart Broad outside the off stump low to the wicketkeeper. This brought in Usman Khawaja, who is considered weak against spin bowling. Joe Root switched to Moeen early, and in just the 11th over, Moeen trapped Khawaja plumb LBW as the Aussie played for spin that wasn’t there.
This dismissal brought Steve Smith to partner David Warner, and this seemed like the most crucial partnership for England to break. The early signs didn’t look good for England, as Smith seemed able to score singles at will and the set Warner looking comfortable facing England’s bowling. If anything Warner became too confident, as he got himself out playing a loose shot to a shortish delivery from Jake Ball straight to Malan at short midwicket. This was a massive blow for Australia, as this partnership had the very real potential to bat England out of the game.
This brought in Peter Handscomb, whose stance deep in the crease caused problems for Anderson and especially Ball as they struggled to bowl the fuller line required to drag him onto the front foot. Anderson did get a few on target though and one got through Handscomb’s defences to hit him on the pads just inches in front of the wicket. The umpire gave it not out, but England reviewed it straight away and it was successful.
This wicket left Australia on the ropes at 76/4, and in real danger of conceding a 100-150 run first innings lead. The next batsman in was Shaun Marsh, who has been dropped more times than a slip chance to Ian Bell and has a Test average of just 36.00. Unfortunately for England, he looked in good form and they seemed to have no answers. Australia were helped by loose bowling which meant that Moeen Ali wasn’t able to concentrate his bowling against the left-handed Marsh.
The other significant factor is that England have not shown the ability to take wickets with the old Kookaburra ball so far in this tour. Even against very inexperienced “Cricket Australia XI” teams, the bowlers couldn’t make frequent breakthroughs. Against the highest rated batsman in the world (and Shaun Marsh), those difficulties seem even more acute. Unless England coax some reverse swing from the ball, they appear to be waiting for the second new ball to actually make some progress in the game.
And so it went that Smith and Marsh batted for 37 overs through the evening session, all the way through to Stumps. England managed to rein the scoring in at least after the Australians started scoring quite quickly early on in the partnership.
The day ended with Australia 165/4. On paper they’d still be considered behind England, especially with their relatively weak tail, but I won’t feel in any way confident until England can get Steve Smith out. He looked in awesome form today, and that will worry England for the series ahead. Apparently Smith averages 95 once he passes 20 runs, so England have to find a way to get him out early several times this series to keep Australia’s talismanic batsman out of the picture. It’s not looking good for that plan so far…
As always, please add your comments below:
Goodness me! Talking up the current captain at the expense of the previous one. Perhaps those shortcomings could have been highlighted four years ago. Enjoying this test match, two days gone and no clue as to how it will go. Wouldn’t like Aus to get much more than 50 in front.
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To be fair, Nick Hoult was anything but a Cook cheerleader. He probably wrote more of the critical articles than most.
Not meant as a dig at Nick Hoult so much, rather the rest of the so-called cricket writers. But this is the nearest I’ve seen to outright rubbishing of Cooks captaincy in MSM. Long overdue. Nothing we didn’t read here first of course.
Sure, understood. I guess what I’m saying is that it’s least surprising that it’s Hoult who has written this. I wouldn’t say he was a strident critic of Cook, he’s not really that type. But he certainly didn’t make excuses for him.
I’m w/ Steve. Genuinely no idea what will happen next.
Marsh to set up the win with a career-defining double ton (without Paine’s 101* he’d never have got there, of course) or England to run through them in the morning and force the Australians to try to bat for a draw on day 5?
Or lots of rain.
So just 56 runs to the piss-boiler of the inevitable Shaun Marsh hundred then. For all the talk of all his ducks, it would be nice to hear the occasional mention that he does have away Test centuries in Sri Lanka (2) and South Africa and can presumably therefore bat a bit.
I’m not sure I’d agree that Australia’s lower order is “weak”. Paine can bat; Starc’s dangerous (although this probably isn’t his sort of pitch); and Cummins is potentially a very useful No.9 (his Test stats don’t mean much because of his short career but his f/c batting average is in the mid 20s). England have also had trouble dismissing the tail in away Tests (anyone remember Jayant Yadav?) and the current attack doesn’t have an obvious run-through-the-tail type bowler.
I wish Rashid was playing. I think he would take wickets on here with turn and bounce. Particularly the tail.
As for Marsh, England seem to have a poor record for allowing players who have struggled to get runs against them. I remember a spate of players getting their first test century against England down the years.
Forecast for rain tomorrow so it may be a bit of a wash out.
One made 303 not out. Three hundred and fucking three. Karun Nair. Legend. Not in the team now.
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Not to mention Ashton Agar’s 98, of course.
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The same Ashton Agar who (now that he’s actually a grown-up) is considered a bits and pieces player and hasn’t managed to tie down a place in either the Test or ODI teams. The ultimate indictment of England’s periodic bowling impotence? Perhaps Karun Nair still edges it.
I wonder if Indian fans feel the same about James Anderson getting eighty odd against them!
We indians think that it is only India which allows everyone to make their highest scores against us. I remember that a tailender brought in from retirement Tony Mann in 77 series in Oz making a century. We also allowed Gillespie to score a lot of runs and save the Sydney test where if we had got him, we would have won the series for the first time. We make a habit of it. So, no counter claims accepted.☺
Chris Lewis and Craig White made their only test tons in India.
But Ajit Agarkar is on the honours board at Lord’s. And Lara, Ponting and Sachin are not. And Kumble has made a test ton in London. Sachin didn’t.
Yeah but Mark, he’s not chirpy in the nets! 🙂
Seriously, bowling at the tail is where Stokes could be most missed. Not that he’s necessarily an all-time great at that – but because there’s no-one else who can quite offer something similar. What’s the betting they get Woakes to bowl a load of bouncers?
Yes , Rashid doesn’t fit the Sandhurst model of whatever is the latest fad.
I was amused to hear that Hales nickname was Halesey. That’s about 30 odd years of England players never being able to come up with an original nickname. All they do is add a Y or EY to any player. Lamby, Hickey, Goochy, Thorpey, Crofty, Harmy, Freddie, Tressie, Vaughny, Jonesy, Cooky, Swanny, Rooty, Broady, Jimmy (didn’t have to do anything for that one.)
It’s not The Marx brothers. Is it?
Stoneman’s become Rocky I read somewhere….
It had some thought.
Wasn’t Gooch called Zap? Cook is Chef. Vaughan was Virgil. Harmison was Grievous. But yes the others have been used too.
Arkle is my favourite.
I think ‘Rocky’ is from back in Durham, where they have more imagination.
Thanks for a noble effort Danny. Lack of sleep caught up with me last night and I missed everything.
I’m sure someone else must have mentioned it but who’d have bet on England’s top scorers being Stoneman, Vince and Malan or on Marsh being Aussies’ second highest and potentially top, if Smith gets out before him?
This game sure is interesting
Yeah, same. I’ve watched for about 4 hours over two nights and I’m knackered!
I seem to remember that Ball did fairly well in the batting in the past. I’d put him before Broad.
If Ball doesn’t do more with the, er, ball, Overton should play.
I suppose this surface isn’t doing Ball any favours.